Making sure your translations are error-free is always important. And even vitally important in the medical world. Medical translations come in all shapes and sizes. From translating medicine boxes for consumers to texts for medical specialists. As a translation agency, we always recommend that you work with specialist translators, but particularly in the medical sector you don’t really have a choice.

Errors in translations in the medical field could sometimes result in life or death issues with a lot of unpleasant variants in-between. It doesn’t bear thinking about errors in your medication leaflet or information brochure. Experienced, specialist medical translators know exactly what they’re writing about. Not only do they have knowledge of the correct language, they’re also familiar with medical terminology.

Mistake 1 — You’ve opted for a translator without medical specialty

Making mistakes is human. Discovering and adjusting those mistakes as a translation agency before they reach the client; that’s service. Translation errors are most common when you have your translation done by a poorly trained translator.

We really get it; cheap always sounds appealing. Because why would you pay more than you need to? According to us (and all the studies that show that translation errors often cause medical errors), a specialist medical translator is really indispensable. Our translators are highly educated and often work(ed) in the medical world, followed relevant training and have many years of experience in the medical sector. These translators are of course more expensive than a non-specialist translator. But imagine what it would cost if your cheap translation causes errors in the medical world…

Mistake 2 — The translator does not take the target audience into account

When writing and translating a medical text two things are important; what do I want to (or should) share and who is the target audience? You would write a completely different text for a trained doctor than for a patient. A patient isn’t familiar with all the medical concepts but most definitely wants to know what the reports or medical records are all about. Then again, if you’d write about medical equipment the information you provide would be far more elaborate and totally different.

Knowing exactly what you wish to convey is one thing, knowing exactly how to do that is something else entirely. It’s important that it’s error-free and easy to understand for the reader. Where you would explain in detail how to understand treatment instructions for new equipment to doctors, you wouldn’t necessarily have to do that for a patient.

A translator specialised in medical texts knows how to write the translation in such a way that it is:
• Attuned to the target group and the corresponding level.
• Faultless.
• Correct in terms of content, by looking closely at the aforementioned level, language barriers and cultural differences.

Mistake 3 — The use of incorrect symbols and pictograms

A handy way to overcome language barriers? Using symbols and pictograms. Important here is that the person the text is intended for knows what it means. This is why many symbols and pictograms have been standardised and internationally recognised — so that everyone knows that certain things can’t be thrown in the bin, that you must rinse your eyes after contact with the medicine or that you must keep it out of reach of children. Quite convenient, isn’t it? It’s up to the manufacturer to ensure that the target group understands the symbols and pictograms used. A good medical translator will take this into account. Testing and localisation are therefore crucial. Want to know more about localisation? Under point 6 in the blog post including tips for translating your website we’ll tell you all about it.

Mistake 4 — The medical translator does not keep abreast with language development

The medical language is constantly changing. Sometimes medical concepts merge resulting in new terminology. The medical language is full of neologisms; newly invented words or expressions. Especially for non-native translators who have no knowledge of the medical field it’s almost impossible to keep up. In addition, it isn’t really doable for you to set up, maintain and correct reference dictionaries and specialised word lists. Unless a translator knows exactly what he or she is doing, it could lead to translation problems.

A medical translator, however, knows exactly what the text is about. What the correct medical terms and concepts are. The language knowledge is always up to date and that preserves you from translation mistakes and maybe even worse.

Mistake 5 — Abbreviation N/A

Did you immediately know what “N/A” stands for? In this case, it’s not a problem if things go wrong. But if you are going to translate medical documents, it had better be correct. There are plenty of medical concepts and each concept could have different abbreviations. Sometimes it’s even about the same abbreviation for several medical terms. If you’re not a medical translator and have no idea what you’re writing about, you will soon mess up. With disastrous consequences. A study analysed medical errors in the United States; between 1,500 and 30,000 medical errors were attributable to confusing abbreviations.

Mistake 6 — The translation is viewed by less than 3 pairs of eyes

As we’ve written before; mistakes are human. That’s why we make high demands of the translators, the translations and our quality control. Especially where translations of medical documents are concerned, it’s important that the text is error-free. That no comma is missing, changing the meaning of an entire sentence. That it doesn’t include an incorrect abbreviation which could endanger lives. All our medical translations are to pass the scrutiny of three pairs of eyes.

Medical translations in German, English, French or even Hindi? Receive your free quote within 2 hours!

Would you like to know more about the translation of your medical texts? Great, because we’re always happy to tell you more about it. If you request a quote without obligation, we’ll make sure it lands on your digital doorstep within two hours. Good to know; we will always assign a personal project manager, your medical translations are always viewed by 3 pairs of eyes and we have the right certificates in place.